When your employees need a burst of fresh energy, a theme day can be the perfect solution. Affordable and entertaining, these topic-oriented events give the entire company a chance to relax and have fun. Whether you’re hosting a single day or a full week of theme days for work, careful planning can help the event run smoothly.

What is an office theme day?

An office theme day is a lighthearted celebration that’s designed to lift employees’ moods and bring a sense of fun to the workday. Organizers plan events around these themes—they might arrange dress-up days, office-decorating contests, competitions, parties, or special meals.

The purpose of a theme day is to bring the team together and build community in the workplace. It’s all about connection and camaraderie. To that end, the themes are often unrelated to work; they’re simply designed to encourage participation and create a sense of excitement.

Regardless of which idea you choose, the theme makes each team member more excited to come to work each day. The resulting spike in energy can boost both productivity and morale.

Done well, an office theme day can create memories that bond your employees and last for years. It’s particularly effective if everyone in the company participates; workers will never forget the CEO’s pajama-day outfit or their supervisor’s winning office-door decorations.

How to plan themed work days

A successful theme day requires careful planning. At a minimum, you’ll need a clear concept, a related activity, and an incentive to participate. It’s also important to promote the event well in advance to build interest and give workers time to get involved.

Choose themes

The theme you choose is the most important part—it sets the tone for the entire event. Decide if you want your theme to be professional development related or completely unrelated from work.

Select dates and events for each theme

If you are hosting theme days, assign each theme to a different day of the week. Then, create activities for each day that relate to the theme. On volunteer day, you might spend the afternoon working with a local nonprofit organization; for ’70s day, encourage everyone to dress in their best bell-bottoms and flower-power outfits.

Ideas for theme-day events include:

  • Costume party
  • Potluck
  • Office games
  • Karaoke
  • Movie afternoon
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Talent show
  • Cubicle decorating contest
  • Invention or elevator pitch competition

Establish incentives

Give employees an extra reason to participate in theme days by offering prizes. Hand out a variety of large and small treats throughout the week—gift cards, event tickets, and local memberships can all entice workers to go all in on each event. Assign one prize to every event.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box; the more creative the prize, the more attention-grabbing it is. Options include:

  • Priority parking spot
  • Paid vacation day
  • Extra professional development funds
  • Office makeover
  • Dinner with the C-suite

Plan and schedule catering

Food is an integral part of any celebration. On at least one of your theme days, plan to offer a catered lunch, breakfast, or snack spread for the entire company. It’s the perfect way to treat your workers and thank them for their contributions to the business.

You can also use food to take your theme to the next level. On under the sea day, you might order sushi. For international day, put out a selection of dishes from cuisines such as Mexican, Thai, Indian, and Chinese. No matter the theme, Grubhub Corporate makes it easy to find a restaurant to match. When you sign up for an account, you can order a catered meal from local restaurants on the Grubhub delivery platform. Place the order when it’s convenient and schedule the delivery time in advance. Because your orders go through a single account, it simplifies the budgeting and invoicing process.

Promote your theme days

With your plans in place, start marketing your theme day ideas to employees. Send out emails, and announce the events in meetings. All marketing materials should help employees understand exactly what to expect. Try to include:

  • List of theme days
  • Events and activities
  • Prizes for participation

Ask company leaders to talk up the event; when team members know that managers and executives are participating, they’re more likely to get on board. Your CEO could post a sneak peek of a costume on social media, for example. Don’t forget about internal influencers—recruit employees to talk up your event.

12 theme days for work ideas

If theme days sound like a good fit for your company, now’s a great time to start planning. Whether you’re interested in traditional, holiday, or unique theme days for work, use these company event ideas as a jumping-off point.

1. Kindness day

Sometimes, the best way for employees to bond is to serve others. Instead of a classic volunteer day, consider hosting a “kindness day.” Ask participants to work together to come up with projects that benefit another person or group. The planning process and anticipation will bond employees just as much as the good deeds themselves.

Kindness projects might be internal or external. The marketing department could treat the sales team to breakfast, and the HR crew might spend the day helping out at a local shelter. By allowing employees to choose their own recipients and projects, you can ensure everyone comes away feeling positive and fulfilled.

2. Field day

Get your entire workforce out of the office and into the sunshine with a company-wide field day. Reserve a local park or sports center, and create a variety of fun competitions. Try to choose a mix of activities to accommodate employees of all physical abilities.

An office field day lends itself perfectly to a picnic-style catered lunch. Enjoy your shared meal at picnic tables, or spread blankets on the grass to encourage friendly conversation. At the end of the day, host an awards ceremony complete with medals and podium pictures to celebrate the big winners.

3. Trivia day

The secret to a great trivia day? Choose the teams randomly. It’s a great way to build relationships between colleagues from different departments, and it helps ensure the trivia all-stars aren’t all on one team. Encourage each group to design their own team T-shirts to add to the fun of competition.

Stick to the trivia theme with pub-style snacks: soft pretzels and cheese, nachos, wings, and pizza. Workers can eat during the game and continue snacking while they mingle afterward.

4. Workspace decorating day

When you need a theme day that’s affordable and easy to pull off, host a workspace-decorating contest. Employees can work individually or in groups to transform their office space into a thing of beauty. Consider dedicating a few hours in the morning to the project, and make sure to offer prizes for the most creative, immersive, and surprising designs.

Once the desks are decorated, encourage employees to tour each workspace and vote on their favorites. Then, celebrate with a casual awards banquet and plenty of delicious snacks.

6. Stress-relief day

Start your theme day on a relaxing note with a day that’s all about reducing stress. The options are endless—you can hire a masseuse, host yoga classes, hire someone to teach basic meditation skills, or bring in puppies for workers to cuddle. If space and funds allow, you can also try spa treatments, sound baths, and fitness sessions.

As you plan, try to schedule a variety of interactive sessions. That way, everyone can participate in a way that feels comfortable, and they also have the opportunity to try something new.

7. Recreate a childhood photo day

This unique theme day invites employees to share more about themselves. Each person should choose a childhood photo and recreate their hairstyle and outfit. Host a group party where each participant shares the original photo and tells the story behind it; the anecdotes and recreations are sure to be funny and touching.

While sharing stories might seem innocuous, the process can be a bonding experience for your team. The memories can create connections and help employees get to know each other on a deeper level.

8. Company spirit day

When you want a relaxed morale-booster, try a company spirit day. The goal? Dress in a way that celebrates the business. Employees might come as the company logo, break out their branded swag, or even put together an outfit made from office supplies.

Because this is an unusual theme day, it’s important to give your employees full creative freedom. It can be helpful to offer prizes and announce the categories in advance. When workers know they’re competing for “most unconventional” or “best use of the company brand,” it lets them know you’re looking for fun, out-of-the-box theme day ideas.

9. Hidden talent day

Chances are your employees have a wealth of secret skills—give them the opportunity to show off on hidden talent day. Host a talent show where workers can demonstrate everything from singing to woodworking. Alternatively, turn the break room into a display space for special projects. No matter how you organize the day, team members will have a blast discovering their colleagues’ unexpected abilities.

Bear in mind that it takes courage to expose a personal talent in front of other professionals; consider offering an incentive to join in, such as a free meal, prizes for the best talent, or gift cards for everyone who participates.

10. Costume day

Looking for spirit theme ideas for October? Get in the Halloween spirit with a costume theme day. Request that workers arrive in costume, but don’t set any rules or limitations; that way, people can participate as much or as little as they like.

Great prizes are key to a successful costume day—they encourage people to put time and effort into their ensembles. If you want to ramp up the team-bonding effects, offer a prize for the best group costume. Make sure to give employees ample time to mingle and enjoy each other’s costumes by hosting a Halloween office party with treats and classic fall games.

11. Fill the sleigh day

If you’d like to host a theme day that falls close to the winter holidays, a “fill the sleigh” day can help your team get into the holiday spirit. Partner with a local food bank or nonprofit to collect food or gifts for families in need. Decorate a large cardboard box like a winter sleigh and invite employees to fill it throughout the day.

In return for their generosity, reward the team with a festive party when the sleigh is full. You might even bring in a representative from the partner organization to tell the team how their donations will benefit people in the community.

12. Midwinter BBQ

Pick the gloomiest time of year in your region and brighten employees’ days with a midwinter BBQ day. This flexible theme lends itself well to both simple and elaborate events. Dress up your indoor space with gingham tablecloths, chalkboard signs, and perhaps a few versions of common lawn games. Order catering from a local BBQ restaurant and make sure to include all of the classics such as smoked brisket, pulled pork, and ribs.

Your employees can enjoy the summer vibes indoors, even if the snow is howling outside.

Food can bring your team together

Theme days are memorable shared experiences for your employees; food is one way to enhance the team-bonding effects. Dining together encourages workers to build personal relationships without the typical pressures of the workday.

The positive impact of communal theme-day meals can last long after the day comes to a close. Researchers discovered that when people enjoy social meals, they tend to be happier. They also experience a stronger connection to the community and a higher feeling of satisfaction—all powerful assets for your business. When workers feel fulfilled and included, your turnover rate falls and productivity rises.

Tight social bonds typically create higher levels of trust and cooperation. As a result, employees are better able to communicate, collaborate, and innovate.

Providing meals for your team members can also strengthen the employer-employee relationship. It’s a simple but effective way to show your appreciation and let workers know how much you value them.

Improve theme days with feedback

Planning a theme day requires experimentation, particularly if it’s your first time. If you’re thinking about making it a regular event, make sure to seek feedback afterward. Ask employees how they felt about the theme days; you can leave room for open answers or request that they rate each event, theme, and meal on a scale of 1 to 10.

Consider asking for feedback on:

  • Interest in participating in future theme days
  • Quality of prizes and promotional materials
  • Requests for specific dress-up days
  • Satisfaction with themed meals

Incorporate the responses into your next theme day. This shows employees you take their input seriously, which makes them more likely to participate in the future. It also helps them feel like part of the process and creates a sense of ownership.

Planned well, theme days can reinvigorate your workplace and build lasting connections—especially if you include free meals in the schedule. Grubhub Corporate can help you find food for any theme. To explore restaurants and see how it works, get started today.